Turkey to spend more on religion than policing in centenary year

Turkey will spend more on religion than policing in 2023, the country's centenary year, local media including the Cumhuriyet newspaper reported on Tuesday citing a three-year economic programme announced at the weekend.

The budget of the Diyanet, or the directorate of religious affairs, will increase to 35.9 billion ($1.97 billion) in 2023, rising 56.8 percent from this year, Cumhuriyet said citing the document. The government has allocated 32.6 billion liras for the Interior Ministry, which includes the budget for the country’s police force, it said.

Next year marks the 100th year since the establishment of the Turkish republic, formed when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, its secular founder and first president, won a war of independence against occupying powers.

The Islamist-leaning government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has raised spending on religion and religious schooling sharply since it came to power in 2002. It has also increased taxes on alcohol and cigarettes at a faster pace than inflation to curb drinking and smoking, which Erdoğan has opposed publicly.

The budget for the Diyanet will be larger than seven ministries, including those responsible for foreign affairs, culture and tourism, industry and technology, the environment and urbanisation, climate change and commerce, Cumhuriyet said.

The Education Ministry will receive 435.3 billion liras next year and the Health Ministry 292.3 billion liras, the newspaper said.

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